Sunday, February 28, 2010

1947 Pirates Tracer

I'm an unabashed fan of baseball anecdotage. There's something about hearing the stories of the men behind the game that gives me an extra appreciation for them. When I was younger I devoured books devoted to these old-timers' tales. My discovery of Retrosheet excited me for many reasons, one of which being that I could look up the box scores of old games I'd read about to see them for myself, learn more about what happened, and even confirm or deny their accuracy. It turns out I wasn't the first person to come up with that idea; Bill James made a habit of researching old anecdotes for his books and referring to them as "tracers." Other great baseball writers have done tracers independent of Bill James, and while I'm far from great, I thought I'd contribute a tracer to the vast array that already exists.

I'm currently in the middle of Hank Greenberg's autobiography, which was published three years after his death and edited by sportswriter Ira Berkow. Berkow's introduction to the book includes this personal recollection of Greenberg:
I remember sitting poolside with him at a Las Vegas hotel. He was entered in a celebrity tennis tournament, and I was there doing a story. He had just come from hitting tennis balls with someone and stopped to chat. He began telling a story about the 1947 Pirates, with whom he had played his last season. It was a terrible team, but, in retrospect, a very funny one.

"I wasn't used to this kind of team--this losing, and a lot of guys drinking and carousing," said Greenberg. "I had been with the Tigers for nine seasons, and we had won four pennants and two World Series and everything was serious and bent on winning.

"Not the Pirates. Billy Herman was in his first year as a manager. He was a nice guy, maybe too nice, and he just locked the door of his office and didn't want to know what the players were doing.

"Well, one afternoon, one of the players got married and a bunch of the guys attended and got looped. We had a game that night. I think Kirby Higbe was pitching for us, and the guys were making errors all over the place."

Now Greenberg stood, laughing, to demonstrate.

"And Kirby--" Suddenly, Greenberg grabbed one leg and began to hop around. "A cramp!" Greenberg groaned. "I have a cramp!"

He wasn't kidding. He grimaced, and yet still laughed--he was determined, despite his intense pain, to finish his story.

"Herman comes to the mound to get Higbe out of there," moaned Greenberg. "Oh! Oh! My leg--! And Higbe--Higbe-- Oh!" Greenberg grabbed his leg but kept laughing. "Higbe says, 'I can't pitch when they're drunk out there.'"

Greenberg was hopping around. "And Herman says, 'Who's drunk?'"

"And Higbe--Higbe--Higbe says, 'Everyone!'"

With that, Greenberg collapsed into a chair, laughing and moaning, as he ended the story.

Berkow noted that little moment to illustrate what a determined individual Greenberg was, but I enjoyed Greenberg's story too. I have no reason to doubt it happened, but I thought it'd be interesting to find out some more details.

Greenberg must have been fond of telling this story, as he included it in the body of his book. He also gives us an extra piece of information: the player who got married was Vinnie Smith, a catcher who spent the year on the disabled list. Well, if we could just find out Vinnie Smith's wedding date, it'd be pretty easy to locate this game.

Thanks to the miracle of Google News' Archives, we can. A simple search turns up the September 3, 1947 edition of the Pittsburgh Press. Click on that link and you'll see a picture of Smith and his new bride, with a caption announcing their nuptials earlier that day and a larger headline proclaiming "Pirates to Face Blackwell Tonight" (the Pittsburgh Press was an afternoon paper). That headline referred to Ewell Blackwell, the Reds' ace pitcher. Elsewhere on the page you can see that Blackwell's Pirate counterpart was scheduled to be either Kirby Higbe or Mel Queen. Thanks to Retrosheet's 1947 Pirates game log, we can see that it was Higbe who started for Pittsburgh that day, just as Greenberg remembered, and lost by a score of 13-6.

So it looks like we've pinpointed the date. Is there anything else we can learn? How about the situation or inning when Higbe and Herman had their chat?

Fortunately, Higbe himself recounted this story, and his version was reprinted on this website. It's quoted as follows:
Kirby Higbe once recalled a game in the 1940's, when the Pirates were also-rans, in which he pitched against the Reds and "five of our regulars were plastered." They kept blowing plays. It was a close game, Higbe remembered, "and the bases were loaded, like our fielders." A fly ball was hit to the center fielder, who stumbled in as the ball flew over his head. "Everyone scored," he said. "I couldn't take it no more. I walked off the mound. Billy Herman, the manager, didn't know what I was doing. He said, 'What's wrong, Hig?'
"I said, 'They're drunk.'
"He said, 'Who's drunk?'
"I said, 'Everyone!' "

Well, he certainly got their opponent correct, and the exchange is almost exactly the same as Greenberg told it, except in Higbe's version he walked off the mound, and said "They're drunk," while in Greenberg's Herman came to the mound and Higbe told him "I can't pitch when they're drunk out there." Minor differences, nothing that would invalidate the story. We also get more details about the situation. Higbe says it occurred after a bases-loaded hit where "everyone scored" in a close game.

Thanks again to the wondrous glory of Google News, we can find a box score and game summary. The September 4, 1947 edition of the Montreal Gazette is the most complete one I can find. The line score shows us that the Reds scored five runs in the second inning, which is the last time it could've been considered a "close game." We also see that Higbe lasted only an inning and a third, further placing this exchange in the second frame. The only mystery remaining is who got the hit that made Higbe give up?

If "everyone scored" on a misplayed ball with the bases loaded, that suggests at least a double. The only Cincinnati player with more than two RBI was catcher Ray Lamanno, who was credited with four of them, as well as both a double and a triple in the game. However, if Higbe pitched 1.1 innings that means he retired four batters while he was on the mound. Lamanno started the game batting in the seventh spot. Assuming Higbe retired the side in the first inning, the only way Lamanno could've come up with the bases loaded in the second is if there were no out. Perhaps Higbe was left in the game despite his protests and didn't fare much better from then on?

I unfortunately don't have a subscription to the New York Times' complete archive, but I've found a detailed game recap on their website that I can't read in its entirety. I can, however, cheat a little by customizing my keywords in a search and reading the previews. I found a telling section:
The Reds scored what proved to be the winning runs in the third inning as Eddie Miller hit a homer to score Ray Lammano (sic). Lammano drove in three of the four markers the Reds scored in the sixth, slashing a triple with the bases loaded.

Hmmmm. If that's the case, Lamanno couldn't have gotten a hit in the second under the circumstances Higbe remembered. Further customizing my keywords, I found mention of a two-run double in the second inning, though I can only deduce who hit it. We know it wasn't Lamanno, as three of his four RBI came on a sixth-inning triple. The only other Red with a double and two RBI was pitcher Blackwell. Perhaps Higbe remembered Lamanno's sixth-inning hit and confused it with the straw that broke his outing's back, and the one that drove Higbe from the game was actually a poorly-handled Ewell Blackwell drive that went for a double?

Let's see...the summary shows that Higbe allowed two hits and three walks (he probably shouldn't have complained too much about his fielders), so we know five batters reached base against him. What about errors? Funny thing, that. The box score tells us neither side was charged with an error, meaning Greenberg's memory of "guys...making errors all over the place" wasn't quite accurate. It appears the impaired Bucs were simply slower in reacting to balls coming their way, as Higbe recalled it. If Higbe allowed five baserunners and retired four batters, it makes perfect sense that Blackwell's hit knocked him out, as Blackwell was batting ninth.

One thing that jumps out at me is that the above website's source for Higbe's version is an April 7, 1986 New York Times article called "View From the Bottom: A Long Lost Season." The author? None other than Ira Berkow, Greenberg's editor. Higbe died in 1985, a year before the article was published, and Berkow had gotten his testimony from a previous interview. An article written by Berkow about Higbe's death, reprinted in the May 11, 1985 Montreal Gazette, closes with a mention of this game:
When he was with the Pirates, he said, "we had a real casino on wheels. Drinking, gambling, running around." He remembered pitching against Ewell Blackwell, then a star with the Reds, and, he said, "five of our regulars were plastered."

The memorial article cites a 1967 interview with Higbe for the ballplayer's recollections. Berkow's introduction to the Greenberg biography says he first met Hammerin' Hank in 1973. This leads me to wonder if it's mere coincidence that both players brought up the same game and quote. Higbe's interview came first, and Berkow quotes Greenberg as saying "I think Kirby Higbe was pitching for us," suggesting he didn't know Berkow had heard the story from Higbe years ago. Is it possible that two separate, unprompted ballplayers related this incident almost exactly the same way to the same writer?

Ralph Kiner has told this story as well. According to a commenter named "katherine" on this blog post, his book Kiner's Korner has it word-for-word the same as Greenberg's. Kiner, of course, was a young slugger in the second year of his Hall of Fame career in 1947, and is perhaps more famous today as a longtime Mets broadcaster. I've never read the Kiner book, but its lone customer review on Amazon.com is interesting:
Published in the spring of 1987, "Kiner's Korner" too often seems less a book than an attempt to cash in on the Mets' return to glory after winning the 1986 World Series. Chapters alternate between briefly-told episodes from Kiner's life (one about his home-run hitting, another about his friendship with Hank Greenberg) and much longer chapters where the story of the Mets unfolds in chronological fashion.

Could Berkow have been involved here? Kiner and Berkow certainly have ties to each other. Both worked in the world of New York sports and both (as this reviewer notes) were friends of Hank Greenberg. Kiner was also one of Berkow's interviewees for the Greenberg biography.

Of course, there's another angle here: Greenberg died on September 4, 1986, and Berkow published a written eulogy soon after that included the story from the top of this post, where Greenberg gets a cramp sharing the Higbe tale with a new generation. If Kiner's Korner was in fact an "attempt to cash in" on the Mets' success, is it possible that the story was worded as it was because it was still fresh in Kiner's mind from reading Berkow's article?

Perhaps it explains the wording, but it's clear Kiner had at least a vague memory of it. It turns out the Higbe-Herman exchange wasn't the only semi-famous anecdote to come from that day. On Kiner's Hall of Fame election in 1975, he didn't hesitate to thank his good friend Hank Greenberg for mentoring him in 1947. Suddenly in the spotlight, Greenberg and Kiner reminisced about the 1947 Pirates:
"Another time one of the players got married before a night game in Pittsburgh and [Billy] Cox, [Jim] Russell and Elbie Fletcher came to the ballpark in the tuxedos they had worn as ushers. They had been drinking champagne and now we had to play the Reds with Ewell Blackwell pitching for them."

Kiner had been listening and now he laughed at the memory of his three teammates in tuxedos.

"Before the game," Kiner said, "Elbie Fletcher went over to see Blackwell in the Reds' clubhouse and gave him six cigars and told him, 'Do me a favor, don't throw at me tonight.'."

That story has been retold in other articles as well.

Clearly this was a memorable day for the Pirate players; the sight of so many teammates playing drunk wasn't something they'd soon forget. Between Elbie Fletcher's antics and Higbe's immortal conversation with Herman, it's obvious that much of what transpired that night was a source of amusement. In that light, it might not be hard to imagine multiple players having almost identical memories of certain moments. It's possible they were a topic of discussion in the clubhouse long afterward. On a team full of revelers and hell-raisers, perhaps no game symbolized the 1947 Pirates' season better than that September 3 matchup with the Reds.

Sources

Berkow, Ira. "View From the Bottom: A Long Lost Season," New York Times, 7 April 1986, C12. Print.

Greenberg, Hank. Hank Greenberg, the story of my life. Ed. Ira Berkow. New York: Times, 1989. Print.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Love a Good Quiz

For those who enjoyed my other All-Star quizzes on Sporcle, I have two new ones up. This time the position is catcher. You can try your hand at the American League and the National League. Have fun and feel free to let me know how you did!

In other news, I'm sorry it's been slow around here lately. I've been preoccupied with several other interests this month, and I haven't had as much time for blogging. Never fear, though! I'm working on a post that I think will be really cool once it's done, and I'll probably have the next World Series winner profile up before too long also. Your patience will be rewarded.

Friday, February 19, 2010

PTWSW #46: The 1949 New York Yankees

Manager: Casey Stengel
Record: 97-57
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Owner: Dan Topping and Del Webb
GM: George Weiss
Coaches: Frankie Crosetti, Bill Dickey, Jim Turner

Future Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mize, Phil Rizzuto

All-Stars: Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Henrich, Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Tommy Henrich, .287
OBP: Tommy Henrich, .416
SLG: Tommy Henrich, .526
OPS: Tommy Henrich, .942
2B: Phil Rizzuto, 22
3B: Phil Rizzuto, Gene Woodling, 7
HR: Tommy Henrich, 24
RBI: Yogi Berra, 91
BB: Tommy Henrich, 86
SB: Phil Rizzuto, 18

(Note: Henrich is only listed as leader in the rate stats because Joe DiMaggio didn't have enough at-bats to qualify.)

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Vic Raschi, 21
SO: Tommy Byrne, 129
ERA: Ed Lopat, 3.26
IP: Vic Raschi, 274.2
CG: Vic Raschi, 21
SHO: Ed Lopat, 4
K/BB: Ed Lopat, 1.01
SV: Joe Page, 27 (AL leader)

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Johnny Mize (b. January 7, 1913)

Youngest Player: Jim Delsing (b. November 13, 1925)

First to Leave Us: Hugh Casey (d. July 3, 1951). Casey was dealt several personal hardships after his career ended, driving him to suicide just two years after playing his final Major League game.

Last Survivor: Three are still living as of September 30, 2015: Bobby Brown, Fenton Mole and Charlie Silvera.

First in Majors: Hugh Casey (debut April 29, 1935)

Last in Majors: Yogi Berra (May 9, 1965)

First to Play For the Franchise: Joe DiMaggio (May 3, 1936)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Yogi Berra (September 28, 1963)

Pre-union Team: The 1942 Giants, 1943 Indians, 1946 Indians and 1946-47 Giants each had two.

Reunion Team: The 1951 St. Louis Browns (Tommy Byrne, Jim Delsing, Cliff Mapes, Duane Pillette and Fred Sanford).

Season Summary

The Yankees parted with manager Bucky Harris after the 1948 season and replaced him with Casey Stengel, fresh off a minor league pennant with the PCL's Oakland Oaks. Many questioned the move; Stengel was a great character, but he'd never managed a first-division club in his nine years of Major League skippering. Further complicating matters, the Yankees started the season without their best player, Joe DiMaggio, whose bum heel kept him out for most of the first half. Injuries and other ailments would plague the Bombers all year; Phil Rizzuto led the team with 153 games played, while Jerry Coleman's 128 were a distant second.

Improbably, the Yankees almost led wire-to-wire. It was only a late-season surge by the Red Sox that prevented it. As if written for Hollywood, Boston's final stop on the schedule was a two-game series in New York. The Red Sox held a one-game lead going into it, but the Yanks would take both contests to win the pennant. Johnny Lindell's eighth-inning homer won the first game, while Vic Raschi pitched a five-hitter in the second.

The Yankees' offense was a clear second-fiddle to the Red Sox'. Boston led in most major categories, but the Yanks were second in OPS+, the slash stats and runs per game. They did have perhaps the AL's best baserunning; their 58 stolen bases were second in the league, and their 30 caught stealings gave them the best success percentage. The Yanks' rival in the run prevention department was the Indians; their DER, ERA+ and runs allowed per game were second only to Cleveland. The Bombers had a staff of fireballers without the best control (namely Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Tommy Byrne). They led the league in both strikeouts and walks (as well as hit batsmen), giving them a middle-of-the-pack strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Yankee bullpen, led by Joe Page, did knock the Indians into second place with 36 saves, almost twice as many as the Tribe.

The World Series matched them up with the Brooklyn Dodgers for the third time. They split the first two games on a pair of 1-0 shutouts, but it was all Yankees after that. New York outscored Brooklyn 20-13 over the last three games, winning them all. The Yankee stars for the Series were third baseman Bobby Brown, whose 1.488 OPS and five RBI led the team, and Allie Reynolds, who pitched 12.1 innings of shutout ball.



Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Saturday, February 13, 2010

PTWSW #45: The 1948 Cleveland Indians

Manager: Lou Boudreau
Record: 97-58
Ballpark: Cleveland Stadium
Owner: Bill Veeck
Coaches: Mel Harder, Bill Lobe, Bill McKechnie, Muddy Ruel

Future Hall of Famers: Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Joe Gordon, Bob Lemon, Satchel Paige

All-Stars: Lou Boudreau, Bob Feller, Joe Gordon, Ken Keltner, Bob Lemon

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Lou Boudreau, .355
OBP: Lou Boudreau, .453
SLG: Lou Boudreau, .534
OPS: Lou Boudreau, .987
2B: Lou Boudreau, 34
3B: Larry Doby, 9
HR: Joe Gordon, 32
RBI: Joe Gordon, 124
BB: Lou Boudreau, 98
SB: Dale Mitchell, 13

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Gene Bearden, Bob Lemon, 20
SO: Bob Feller, 164 (AL leader)
ERA: Gene Bearden, 2.43 (AL leader)
IP: Bob Lemon, 293.2 (AL leader)
CG: Bob Lemon, 20 (AL leader)
SHO: Bob Lemon, 10 (AL leader)
K/BB: Bob Feller, 1.41
SV: Russ Christopher, 17 (AL leader)

Tidbits

Oldest Player:
Satchel Paige (b. July 7, 1906). Joe Gordon, almost nine years Paige's junior, was second-oldest.

Youngest Player: Al Rosen (b. February 29, 1924)

First to Leave Us: Russ Christopher (d. December 5, 1954). Christopher was the Indians' relief ace in 1948, but the 31-year-old retired after the season due to a heart condition. The ailment would claim his life just six years later.

Last Survivor: Eddie Robinson is the only one still living as of March 14, 2015.

First in Majors: Bob Feller (debut July 19, 1936)

Last in Majors: Interestingly, the team's oldest player was also the last to appear in a Major League game. Satchel Paige pitched three innings for the Kansas City Athletics on September 25, 1965, and the 59-year-old allowed only one baserunner while he was on the mound. In the non-publicity stunt division it was Mike Garcia on September 2, 1961.

First to Play For the Franchise: Bob Feller (July 19, 1936)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Mike Garcia (September 11, 1959)

Pre-union Team: The 1946-47 Browns (Johnny Berardino, Wally Judnich, Bob Muncrief and Sam Zoldak)

Reunion Team: The 1949 White Sox (Al Gettel, Ernest Groth, Ed Klieman, Pat Seerey and Joe Tipton)

Accomplishments

Lou Boudreau, AL MVP
Bob Lemon, no-hitter on June 30

Season Summary

Bill Veeck oversaw only one World Series champion during his storied career as a Major League owner, and fittingly, that team had one of the most interesting seasons of any Series champ. Shortstop-manager Lou Boudreau won the MVP after Veeck nearly traded him away the previous offseason, third baseman Ken Keltner had the best year of his career at age 31 and the pitching staff saw two new stars arise in Bob Lemon and Gene Bearden. One brilliant move that many mistook for a publicity stunt was the signing of Satchel Paige in July. The veteran Negro League hurler was in his 40's by then (his precise age was a constant topic of debate), but he ended up being a valuable arm out of the bullpen, providing 72.2 innings of a 164 ERA+. The Indians had integrated the American League with the addition of Larry Doby the previous summer, and in 1948 he emerged as the team's star center fielder.

As has often been the case throughout the Indians' history, this team was pretty unlucky. Their OPS+, ERA+ and DER all led the league, the latter two by a wide margin, and their homers, batting average and OPS all led as well. Despite being far and away the AL's best team, they severely underperformed their Pythagorean record; the pennant race was close all year. The Indians held onto first place for most of the first half before falling behind the surging Yankees and Red Sox in late August.

Cleveland's 1920 title was won in the wake of a tragedy: shortstop Ray Chapman was beaned in August and died the next day. On September 13 the Indians nearly saw another player's life claimed by an on-field injury. Pitcher Don Black twisted his neck while batting against the Browns, resulting in a cerebral hemorrhage. Black was hospitalized for the next six weeks. The Indians' September 22 game against the Red Sox was played as a benefit for Black, and over $40,000 in gate receipts went to the fallen moundsman. That game was also a significant win that put the Indians in a first-place tie with Boston. The Indians never fell out of first after that, though they finished the season tied with the BoSox, forcing a one-game playoff. Gene Bearden, backed by an eight-run attack, defeated the Red Sox in the extra contest to clinch the Tribe's first pennant in 28 years.

The Indians, already in Beantown for the playoff, stayed there to face the Braves in the World Series. Ace Bob Feller lost a 1-0 heartbreaker in Game 1, but the Indians allowed only two runs over the next three games, all Cleveland victories, behind Lemon, Bearden and Steve Gromek. Feller was again victimized in Game 5, only this time it was an 11-5 slugfest rather than a pitcher's duel. Lemon closed out the Series in Game 6, tossing 7.1 innings for the final victory. Eddie Robinson's eighth-inning RBI single provided the winning margin. The Indians have had some great seasons since then, but unfortunately, the 1948 World Series title remains their last.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Friday, February 5, 2010

PTWSW #44: The 1947 New York Yankees

Manager: Bucky Harris
Record: 97-57
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Owners: Larry MacPhail, Dan Topping and Del Webb
GM: Larry MacPhail
Coaches: Red Corriden, Frankie Crosetti, Chuck Dressen, Johnny Schulte

Future Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto

All-Stars: Spud Chandler, Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Henrich, Billy Johnson, Charlie Keller, George McQuinn, Joe Page, Aaron Robinson, Spec Shea

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Joe DiMaggio, .315
OBP: George McQuinn, .395
SLG: Joe DiMaggio, .522
OPS: Joe DiMaggio, .913
2B: Tommy Henrich, 35
3B: Tommy Henrich, 13 (AL leader)
HR: Joe DiMaggio, 20
RBI: Tommy Henrich, 98
BB: Snuffy Stirnweiss, 89
SB: Phil Rizzuto, 11

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Allie Reynolds, 19
SO: Allie Reynolds, 129
ERA: Spec Shea, 3.07
IP: Allie Reynolds, 241.2
CG: Allie Reynolds, 17
SHO: Allie Reynolds, 4
K/BB: Allie Reynolds, 1.05
SV: Joe Page, 17 (AL leader)

Tidbits

Oldest Player:
Bobo Newsom (b. August 11, 1907)

Youngest Player: Don Johnson (b. November 12, 1926)

First to Leave Us: Snuffy Stirnweiss (d. September 15, 1958). Stirnweiss tragically died in a Newark Bay commuter train accident at the age of 39.

Last Survivor: As of January 2017, Bobby Brown is the only one living.

First in Majors: Bobo Newsom (debut September 11, 1929)

Last in Majors: Yogi Berra (final game May 9, 1965)

First to Play For the Franchise: Frankie Crosetti (April 12, 1932)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Yogi Berra (September 28, 1963)

Pre-union Team: The 1946 Indians had Sherm Lollar, Ray Mack, Allie Reynolds and Ted Sepkowski. The four players were acquired in three separate transactions.

Reunion Team: The 1950-51 Browns (Tommy Byrne (1951), Don Johnson, Sherm Lollar, Dick Starr and Snuffy Stirnweiss (1950)) and 1952 Senators (Randy Gumpert, Don Johnson, Bobo Newsom and Spec Shea) each had four.

Accomplishments

Joe DiMaggio, AL MVP

Season Summary

The previous two years had been a period of transition for the Yankee franchise. Larry MacPhail, Dan Topping and Del Webb purchased the team from the Jacob Ruppert estate in January 1945, and 1946 turned out to be a farewell tour for the old guard. Longtime manager Joe McCarthy resigned in May, iconic GM Ed Barrow severed his ties with the franchise in December, and veterans Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon, Johnny Murphy and Red Ruffing all played their final games in pinstripes that year. 1947 represented the beginning of a new era for the Yankees; it was the start of an 18-year run where they'd win an astounding 15 pennants and ten World Series.

As is Yankee tradition, the 1947 team had an incredible offense. Their 111 OPS+ was far and away the league's best mark, and they averaged half a run per game more than anyone else. They led the league in homers, batting average and slugging average. They trailed the AL in stolen bases, but their league-best 72 triples indicated that they had some good speed on their roster. They were a strong fielding team, with their fielding percentage and DER both trailing only the Indians. Their pitching staff both walked and struck out the most batters, but their K/BB ratio was good for second-best in the league. Overall, the Yanks allowed the fewest runs per game.

The Bronx Bombers got off to a decent enough start, but they found themselves behind the Tigers early on. On June 5, in a game against those same Tigers, the Yankees lost Charlie Keller, their leading home run hitter, to a spine injury. Fortunately, the Yankees had enough depth to overcome the loss. While he was no Keller, Johnny Lindell proved a capable substitute in left field for the rest of the season. On June 13 the Yankees were 27-23, only a game and a half out of first. They went an incredible 31-3 over the next month (capped by a 19-game winning streak) to put themselves 11.5 games ahead of the pack, and the rest of the season was a breeze.

The World Series featured a matchup that would occur six times over the next ten years: New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers. The showdown went an exciting seven games. Its most memorable moments were a no-hitter by Yankee hurler Bill Bevens broken up with two out in the ninth of Game 4, and an incredible catch by Dodger outfielder Al Gionfriddo which robbed Joe DiMaggio of a homer in Game 6. The Yankees got the go-ahead run in Game 7 on Tommy Henrich's fourth-inning single, and relief ace Joe Page allowed only one hit over the last five frames to ensure victory.

Immediately after the Yankees clinched the title, GM and part-owner Larry MacPhail announced he was retiring from the front office. At a championship party later, a drunken MacPhail started fistfighting with several guests, prompting Topping and Webb to buy out his shares that night. MacPhail's Hall of Fame baseball career was over, and the Yankees appointed another Hall of Famer as his successor: farm director George Weiss.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives